I'm a PhD candidate investigating the integration of neurophysiological and physiological data for predictive and diagnostic tools and treatments. I'm a mom to a 10-year-old and I want to exemplify that being a mom shouldn’t stop you from pursuing your goals.
“I hope my story exemplifies that one can have a positive experience as a mother in science.”
My scimom journey began when I returned to uni to do a PhD. People told me I was crazy, because I already had a thriving career path in technology, which I spent a lot of time building up till that point.
However, I knew I had more to offer and wanted to make the shift from knowledge consumer to knowledge creator.
Fast forward 6 months into my PhD as a "mature age" student, and it has truly been a rollercoaster! Not being on a scholarship has made it extra tough, but I'm slowly making progress and kicking small goals along the way.
That said, I am lucky to have had incredibly supportive supervisors! Though they are male, not once did they question my ability to complete a PhD whilst being a single mom.
Not only did they quickly get to the point about helping me to get a scholarship, they even helped me to secure more casual work in the meantime (because as a full-time student and mom it is difficult to commit to a full time job). They have not left me out of a single meeting and no matter how busy I am, they continue to flood my inbox with invites to everything (I asked them to of course), and they respect that I do need prioritise my paid work from time to time.
So are there pressures? Yes of course! There will always be someone, kids or no kids, who can stay back later, work longer, or go to more events than you. However, it is no different in a corporate role or non-academic job, in fact it's probably worse (I should know, I spent over 6 years in the corporate environment). It is important to get comfortable with this.
I've heard stories that it is often the females who are first to give up on a PhD. This made me even more determined to finish, and I hope my story exemplifies that one can have a positive experience as a mother in science (or science and technology in my case).
So if you are planning to head down this track here are my takeaways:
1. Be open and proud of being a mom. That doesn’t mean talking about your kids all the time, but when it is a topic of conversation, talk about it like it's not even a thing and it won't be.
2. Know yourself and your strengths. Don't think for one second about competing with the undergrads who are straight outta high school, and still live at home. Have a very clear idea of why you are pursuing this path and what you want to get out of it.
3. Give it time. I am still chasing that elusive scholarship and 1st publication, but I'm not stressin - I know it'll happen and I can't wait to share with everyone when it does.